Antony On Nishioka, Hardy, Pavano, Liriano, More

Twins Assistant GM Rob Antony recently sat down for a chat with Jesse Lund from Twinkie Town to discuss a variety of topics. Let's recap the hot stove talk…

  • Tsuyoshi Nishioka first popped up on the team's radar after Antony mentioned to his agent that the team was looking to get more athletic on the infield. This was long before they decided to trade J.J. Hardy.
  • The Twins believe Nishioka is a good player, but they understand there might be a bit of a transition period. Not just for the move to MLB, but the move to the United States. They've hired an interpreter for Nishioka, and don't believe the additional Japanese media will be an issue in the clubhouse.
  • The three-year, $9MM contract Nishioka signed was "exactly what we pretty much anticipated and were willing to give." They were trying to add speed and athleticism to the lineup, but no one on the free agent market jumped out at them, hence the pursuit of Nishioka.
  • Hardy was expected to make $5MM+ in 2011 (he eventually signed for $5.85MM), and the team "just decided that we wanted to put that money into other areas." Carl Pavano, Jim Thome, and most of the bullpen were free agents, so they had to prioritize. "Trying to fit all those guys into a budget was going to be impossible."
  • The Twins had conversations with other teams about Hardy, but there were never any real offers. The trade with Baltimore was "by far [their] best opportunity to make a deal." It became apparent that Brendan Harris wasn't a fit anymore, hence his inclusion in the trade.
  • Antony says the Twins like Rule 5 Draft pick Scott Diamond in long relief, and Dusty Hughes' success against Minnesota last year played a role in claiming him off waivers.
  • Although they would have liked to retain Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier, Jon Rauch, and Brian Fuentes, the Twins just "couldn't compete" with the multyear offers they were receiving as free agents.
  • Thome decided that Minnesota was where he wanted to be after talking with his family, and the money didn't appear to be much of an issue.
  • Antony expected Pavano to get two or three years at $10-11MM per season, and he knows the Brewers had some interest in the right-hander. Pavano's agent basically told the Twins he wanted to play there, and he wasn't a guy that was "chasing the last dollar."
  • Rumors of Francisco Liriano being available in a trade were just that, rumors. As far as a multiyear deal with the lefty, Antony said there "can be many reasons why you don't consummate a multiyear deal, and sometimes the player doesn't want to, sometimes the club doesn't want to, sometimes you just don't agree on numbers, or whatever. So we're not going to talk about any of our negotiations with that or anything else, but he was a big part of our rotation. We're not talking to anybody right now on Francisco Liriano."
  • The team is at the "far reaches" of where they can go with payroll, so they tried to maintain flexibility for 2012 by not doing any multiyears deals this offseason (aside from Pavano).
  • "If the right deal arises and we can improve our ballclub, we could look at it from that point of view," said Antony, regarding a potential trade involving one of the team's excess starting pitchers. "I don't think we'd trade away one of our starting pitchers for a middle reliever or something. It would have to be something that would make sense for us. And a trade isn't even the most likely scenario, it's a possible scenario."

Antony also talked about Justin Morneau's health, Delmon Young's breakout, injury concerns, minor league prospects, and much, much more. Make sure you give it a read.


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33 Comments on "Antony On Nishioka, Hardy, Pavano, Liriano, More"


rockfordone
4 years 6 months ago

Twins in serious trouble with no bullpen.

4 years 6 months ago

Well, they do have a lot of question marks, but there is a lot of talent if everyone performs up to there abilities. Nathan, Capps, Neshek, Mijares, Gutierrez, Slama, Waldrop, Diamond, and one of the starters isn’t too bad, plus they still have the guys they acquired from trades.

bbxxj
4 years 6 months ago

Nathan, Capps, and Mijares should all be solid or very good and with a team that develops pitchers like the Twins I’m sure they can get some serviceable middle relievers from the farm if needed.

twins33
4 years 6 months ago

I wouldn’t say that. The Twins usually have turnover, not this many at once, but they have turnover. Most of the BP spots are filled. They basically have +10 guys (not exaggerating) to try and fill 1-2 spots in the bullpen. Nathan, Capps, Mijares and Diamond are probably locks. I say Diamond because he has to make the team or be offered back to the Braves, unless he absolutely sucks that won’t happen. Then there’s the guy who loses his spot in the rotation (Slowey or Blackburn, probably Slowey). That’s five spots filled with two to go. I don’t believe all +10 guys fighting for those spots will fail.

Even if they did fail, the Twins have grabbed guys mid-season for the last two years and they’ve all helped. If they need it, they’ll do it. Hopefully this year, they won’t even need to do that.

And it feels like the Twins “have had no bullpen” for years now. I think it’s said a lot (almost every year), yet they’ve been a top 5 AL bullpen for years. That could change with the turnover, but they’re really only losing Guerrier and Crain as far as “guys they’ve had for a long time.” Fuentes, Rauch, Mahay..whoever else, they were just fill-ins for the most part.

I think if there’s a problem in the bullpen this year, it will be because of the loss of Guerrier. He’s the rock that they’ve had for a long time. I think they’ll miss how much they could depend on him. He was way more good than bad. Hopefully they don’t miss him, because everybody will be good, but it would not shock me at all if they did.

4 years 6 months ago

The Twins Bullpen will no doubt surprise a lot of “baseball experts” this season.

disgustedcubfan
4 years 6 months ago

What’s the backup plan at short if Casilla sucks?
I know the Twins are not going to spend anymore $$$ for 2011, but just for fun let’s say the Dodgers (cash strapped) will listen to offers for Furcal, and the Mets (also cash strapped) will listen to offers for Reyes.
Do the Twins have any contracts they could trade some where else to free up some $$$ for either one of those guys.
Shortstop seems like the only hole in the line up as of now.

twins33
4 years 6 months ago

Their back-up option for Casilla is Plouffe, who’s in AAA. They’ve said that they view Tolbert as a utility guy. If they needed someone long-term, it would be Plouffe.

I’m not sure what contracts the Twins would give up. Cuddyer, Capps and Kubel are all FA’s at the end of the year. Combined they make up over $22 million. Capps (if they are comfortable with Nathan & rest of BP) and Kubel would be the most likely, but I doubt it would happen.

NordeastMPLSTwinsFan
4 years 6 months ago

Cuddyer is a possibility, but the fans want Bill Smith’s head on a stake if he made that trade.

twins33
4 years 6 months ago

Possibly. I think there’s an equal amount of hate for Cuddy out there too. I see a lot of “he’s overpaid” just as much as I see someone say “I like him.” Most, at the very least, like him but believe he’s overpaid. Others like him and don’t believe he’s overpaid.

I don’t think the Twins would do it because they love Cuddy, regardless of what fans think either way. I like him, but I hope if he does return, it isn’t for much more than $5 million per year on his next contract.

4 years 6 months ago

I’m one of the fans that don’t hate him but realize that he’s not worth what he makes.

twins33
4 years 6 months ago

As am I. I think there are a lot of us.

NordeastMPLSTwinsFan
4 years 6 months ago

I think the Cuddy hate is mostly limited to forums and commet pages. I agree that we pay too much for him this year. If he’s willing to take around the $5MM per year for the next contract, I would be more than fine with that. I definitely say he’s worth that, especially with how much of a clubhouse guy he is.

I would say that the average Twins fan that doesn’t analyse performance/pay would be furious if we traded Cuddy. I’m not advocating it at all though. We’ll see where things go at mid season. I’d hate to see the Twins trade Cuddy or Kubel.

TwinsVet
4 years 6 months ago

If he puts up 2009 numbers, $12M is still a team-friendly price. If he puts up 2010 numbers, $8M would be more fair-market.

His bat this season is going to define his 2012-15 wage. I think he comes back to MN on a 15% discount, because of his “intangibles” (leadership, versatility). The question is just whether or not we’re buying the 2009 version or 2010.

twins33
4 years 6 months ago

If he put up 2009 numbers then I’d be okay with a slight pay increase…or at least staying at $10 million. I just don’t think it’s going to happen. 2009 was almost a career year for him, depending on if you think 2006 was better (I do, but it’s close).

I think those numbers are more of the exception rather than the rule for Cuddyer. He’s not awful in non-career years, he’s still a good player, I just think 2006 and 2009 might be too much to ask of a 32 year old.

I really think it depends on health and the ballpark. If he’s healthy all year, then we’ll be able to tell if the park is really hurting him. Last year it was hard because you could blame the ballpark and the knee injury he was playing through. Cuddyer’s lowest OPS at home in the Dome was .848 in 2005. His high was .930 in 2006. Everything else has been in between. In 2010 his home OPS went down to .786. I’d say that’s a huge drop, even from his Dome low.

If he’s going to be putting up 2010 numbers from now on then there’s no way he’s worth 10 because that guy is a below .800 OPS guy. His away OPS fluctuates some. In the great years it was +.800. In the non-career years he usually puts up an away OPS of .680-.720 (.735 career avg OPS including the career years). That’s not a good number at all. It’s a below average player.

He really needs to bring it at home, because he’s usually not a good player away (minus the career years). If the ballpark continues to kill his numbers, he just isn’t worth $10 million. I honestly don’t think he’s going to go back to being an .850 OPS guy at home. Not in this ballpark. I hope I’m wrong, but right now I just don’t see it.

Drew
4 years 6 months ago

Well, the thing about ballpark effect is that if it turns one .850 OPS guy into a .786 OPS guy, chances are it’s turning ALL .850 OPS guys into .786 OPS ones. And in the process making our pitchers better. So yea, while you can look at .786 OPS and say, “Man, that’s not good,” in reality, and for the park, it might actually be good. And that any other “replacement level” player might put up numbers even worse than “replacement level” simply due to the park.

If you think that’s likely or possible, then taking Cuddy’s .786 OPS is the smart move (for the right price).

twins33
4 years 6 months ago

Oh, I agree that it wouldn’t just be pushing Cuddy’s numbers down. It’s going to be pushing everyone’s numbers down. But Cuddyer is always a guy who relied heavily on his home stats.

Away from home he’s always been a below average to average player. If his home stats never recover to what they used to be, he shouldn’t be getting 10 million. Same goes for everyone else who relies so heavily on how he performs at home.

It’s one of the big reasons (besides money) I do not want Michael Young, he’s a product of the ballpark he plays in. He puts up great home numbers, but away, he’s a completely different player. If Young and Cuddyer’s home/away splits weren’t so far apart then there wouldn’t be much worry, but they are both guys who hit well in a more hitter friendly ballpark. Take that away and you’re taking a lot of stats away from them and they become average at best.

Trust me, I prefer that the Twins ballpark be a more pitchers ballpark. Our pitchers need help much more than our hitters do. I feel like we can score with these guys whether it be by singles, doubles or HR’s.

Drew
4 years 6 months ago

More specifically, are we PAYING for the 2009 version or the 2010 version.

TwinsVet
4 years 6 months ago

When Anthony referred to wanting flexibility to perhaps keep one of the potentially-departing 2012 free agents, I read: Twins will extend Cuddyer on a team-friendly contract to get him to retire in a Twins uni.

0vercast
4 years 6 months ago

I wouldn’t mind a midseason Cuddy trade at all, especially if Delmon continues to improve. The money saved on Cuddy can go to a Delmon extension. Extending a hot Delmon at the same time as trading Cuddy might help smooth some ruffled feathers.

I just don’t see him taking a significant pay cut to remain with the Twins after this season. If the TWins want to keep him, which I’m sure they do, they’ll have to pay what they’re paying now or close to it. I believe some team out there will be more than willing to pay full market value for him on a three or four year deal for that veteran presence to help stabilize a young lineup. 3/$30MM is my guess. OF/1B for the Giants would be a good fit, for one.

0vercast
4 years 6 months ago

Luke Hughes will be in the mix at SS along with Plouffe if Casilla fails.

twins33
4 years 6 months ago

I believe that there was an article recently on the Twins official site that said Hughes is not an option at SS. It was written not too long ago, but I can’t tell you which one since once spring training starts they roll out at least three articles a day.

It basically said Hughes is only an option for 2B or 3B. And I think it said Plouffe was an option for 2B, 3B and SS (not too sure about the 2B part though).

I even searched and I still can’t find it. Anyway, that’s just what I remember from the article. I do specifically remember someone with the Twins saying that Hughes wasn’t an option for SS. They’ll go with Plouffe or Tolbert…Plouffe being the first option because they see Tolbert as the utility guy.

4 years 6 months ago

I read the same article I believe you are referring to. It said Hughes was an option for 3B and 2B but his range was not good enough to play SS and I believe that is true. Plouffe would be the guy to come in should Casilla or Nishioka get injured or falter.

Tolbert is the new Nick Punto in Minnesota. Baserunner/Super-utility guy.

twins33
4 years 6 months ago

Good, I know I’m not going crazy then. I just have no idea where I read it, could have sworn it was on the official site.

And by the new Nick Punto, I hope that means he will actually be the utility guy like Punto should have been. It sounds like that will be the case. Gardy doesn’t seem to love him like he loved Punto.

TwinsVet
4 years 6 months ago

Gardy doesn’t even love Toby like he loved Punto.

Mauerneau
4 years 6 months ago

Haha that is priceless.

TwinsTapir
4 years 6 months ago

Decent chance they would slide Nishioka to SS and use Hughes at 2B if both Casilla and Plouffe bomb out. Assuming they don’t decide to just go that way to start with.

twins33
4 years 6 months ago

Agreed. They really don’t like Hughes’ D..basically anywhere. It’s the big knock on him, but he definitely can’t play SS. I’m a Hughes fan, but I’m not sure if he’ll ever be more than a bench bat. I hope he will be more, because I do like him.

I think they will put Casilla at SS and Nishioka at 2B. Gardy said again today that he prefers Casilla there. I prefer him there too. Casilla is a bad second baseman. It’s not his natural position, SS is. Every time I’ve seen him at SS, I’ve been comfortable with his defense. At second, not so much.

And one of the Twins beat reporters said the Nishioka doesn’t have the arm that Casilla or Plouffe have so he will definitely play better at 2B. It would work the best. Casilla can be at a position he’s better at and Nishioka can hopefully play second base better than Casilla could, which shouldn’t be hard.

0vercast
4 years 6 months ago

There a pretty nice 4 min. Nishioka highlight video on YouTube set to a crappy 80’s rock song. One of the first things I noticed in that vid was that Nishi looked to have above average range, but was lobbing RAINBOWS on his throws to first.

twins33
4 years 6 months ago

Interesting. I’ll have to check that out. I’ve only seen the hitting videos. If he really is a “lobber” than there’s no way we can have that at SS.

I can’t seem to remember how good Casilla’s arm is, but it’s better than that.

0vercast
4 years 6 months ago

That wouldn’t surprise me at all. I recall hearing this last spring after Hardy’s first round of injuries that Hughes was a possible option at SS. The Twins liked his bat and were considering him as a fill-in at SS despite his limited range. Then Hughes has a miserable, injury-riddled season himself.

twins33
4 years 6 months ago

Yeah, I think they were considering it last year. This year they’ve said the opposite so far. I guess in an extreme “we have no one else” situation it could happen. Like TwinsTapir said, they’d probably move Nishioka and put Hughes at second before they did the opposite of that.

Though, then again, who knows how much they are going to want to mess with Nishioka. I’m sure they want him to get comfortable and only play him in one spot. I guess it’s all just guessing at this point, but so far they’ve said no to Hughes at SS this year.

TwinsTapir
4 years 6 months ago

I expect picking up salary midseason won’t be a significant issue this year, as they budget some for it to start with, and could write a chunk against next year’s budget when a lot of contracts are going away. Plus there’s a decent chance a starting pitcher is moved. There is the aspect that the Pohlads are kind of in trouble elsewhere so might not be willing to sink extra money in, though.

Probably this is all moot, because the Twins picking up a star player would be astonishing.

twins33
4 years 6 months ago

grr…stop posting down here when i reply to someone.